Monday, September 1, 2014

LUO changes office location

Liberty employees have moved from Green Hall to new office in River Ridge Mall

Relocation — An LUO staff member talks with a student from his department’s new workplace at the former Sears.  Photo credit: Lauren Adriance

Relocation — An LUO staff member talks with a student from his department’s new workplace at the former Sears. Photo credit: Lauren Adriance

While students were away for the summer, staff at Liberty University Online (LUO) were making the move into the former Sears building at River
Ridge Mall.

What used to be the store’s towels and bedding department is now a reception area. Electronics changed to admissions, and the hardware section now serves as an area for employees to give assistance to existing students. The former juniors department is a work in progress but will become a recreational area for employees. Here and there, touches of
Sears remain.

The new location definitely differs from Green Hall where LUO was previously located, according to Tamela Crickenberger, executive director of enrollment for LUO. Part of the program was located above Human Resources and the Liberty University Police Department offices, while other portions of LUO offices were in a different location. Splitting up the department hurt morale and the sense of unity in the department.

“We’re in one space, and the team camaraderie is much better,” Crickenberger said.

Of course, there are other benefits beyond being under one roof, according to Crickenberger, who said that parking is much better at the mall. The convenience of Planet Fitness and the food court is another new element the staff is enjoying.

Crickenberger said Sears closed as the new year began, and for about six months, the building sat empty. Then, in early June, Liberty began gutting and rebuilding the space, creating offices, cubicles and break rooms.

Even as renovations were being made around them, people started moving into the new facility in late June. For the next few weeks, piece by piece, the department settled into its new facility.

“It was a good transition,” Crickenberger said.

The move was not completely smooth, according to Crickenberger. For example, a power outage knocked out power at the mall, and the online program had to scramble to find a new home for a few hours. However, the department was eventually able to make Green Hall its new home.

The support from Liberty during the move and even now has been fantastic. Crickenberger noted that technical support as well as facilities have been quick to answer their calls and resolve problems.

While the building itself is a work in progress, LUO is up and running, serving its 92,000 students. Combined with the 16,000 residential students on campus, Liberty is now at more than 100,000 students.

“I think that it is a great move,” B.J. Williams, 2009 graduate and Lynchburg resident, said. “With the growth of LUO over the years, to be able to have a space like the old Sears building to house it is a definite benefit and will allow it to continue to grow over the coming years.”

Right now, LUO is not the only Liberty department in the building, according to Crickenberger. As their facilities are being prepared, faculty from the Zaki Gordon Cinematic Arts Department and the Osteopathic School of Medicine are being temporarily housed at River Ridge Mall.

“It’s great to see the online department expand,” James Bojaciuk, who has taken several online classes, said.

“(The move of LUO was) definitely a team effort — an LU team effort,” Crickenberger said.

The move will allow room for LUO to continue to grow, according
to Crickenberger.

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